Let’s get one important fact out of the way right now: We didn’t play with the truck tire.
But I did enjoy my second foray into the CrossFit world on Tuesday, when I took an (unofficial—it’s called “Boot Camp” class, to avoid violating the trademark) CrossFit class at the gym near my mom’s house in Florida. Based on my experience there, and on my experience taking an official CrossFit class last October for a Bethesda Magazine feature, I have some thoughts and first impressions to share.
What I like about CrossFit:
- I like that CrossFit is deceptively simple, with workouts composed of basic boot-camp-style exercises (many of which use your body weight as resistance) and Olympic weight-lifting—all functional movements designed to mimic stuff you might do in real life.
- It’s high intensity stuff, so you get a great workout in a short period of time. The workout set on Tuesday was as follows: 20 pull-ups (I did modified ones with rings), 30 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, 50 squats. Repeat five times. By the fifth run-through, the sit-ups were stunningly difficult (who would’ve thunk that simple sit-ups could feel so impossible?). Still, the whole workout only took me something like 25 minutes.
- In official CrossFit classes, highly trained instructors watch carefully to check your form and make sure you’re not performing any movements dangerously.
- The instructors are big on modifying the movements to make sure everyone, despite any injuries or strength deficiencies, gets a great workout. In the first class I took, that meant a modified box (a stack of 45-pound plates) to jump on to nurse my still-recovering knee after ACL-reconstruction surgery. On Tuesday, it meant using ring to assist my pull-ups, which I can barely eke out one of, let alone five sets of 20.
- The studio space is spare and kind of hard-core. The Bethesda CrossFit studio, for example, was a basement room with bare walls and a bunch of bars, plates, kettlebells and PVC pipes. The class on Tuesday met outside. Our only equipment: The rings, and a pull-up bar. I LOVE the lack of froufy stuff.
- Great camaraderie. The exhausted high-fives and breathless words of encouragement exchanged between participants made me think of my running group, which I enjoyed.
What I don’t like about CrossFit:
- I really only have one complaint about CrossFit: The CrossFit ego. This isn’t unique to CrossFit, of course. Many sports have obsessive groupies who think all other workouts are inferior, and many sports have nerdy, acronym-heavy vocabularies that annoy the uninitiated. But the box (the gym), the WOD (“workout of the day”), the Paleo diet, Pukey the Clown (the mascot)—I’m sorry if this offends my CrossFitty friends, but to me, it all seems a little too … cutesy. I’ve glimpsed the end of several CrossFit classes, and in each instance, I’ve seen multiple people laying on the ground in pure exhaustion, moaning and groaning. Yes, it’s hard. But lots of things are hard. Can you imagine a group of swimmers laying on the pool deck moaning and groaning after a killer workout? Or runners doing so on a track after a set of mile repeats at 5K pace minus 10 or 15 seconds? It would be weird.
All in all, there are obviously more positives than negatives in my opinion. And the instructor of the faux CrossFit class in Florida told me that if I give him a heads-up next time I’m in town, he’ll try to work the truck tire into the WOD. So yes, I will be back.
Have you tried CrossFit? What do you like about it? What turned you off?